Monday, November 04, 2019

New Zealand should not fund bigotry

Two years ago, the Cook Islands government announced that it was planning to join the civilised world and decriminalise consensual homosexual sex between men. Now, they've reversed their position, and decided to criminalise lesbians into the bargain:

Two years ago, in a step welcomed by many people including the gay and lesbian communities, the Pacific nation's Parliament removed "indecent acts between men" and sodomy from a draft Crimes Bill.

On Saturday, select committee chairman Tingika Elikana said they would reinstate the clause.

In fact, in an unintended consequence of moves to make legislation gender-neutral, the anticipated effect of the bill will be to also criminalise sex between women, as well as between men.

The select committee's recommendation to Parliament would reinstate a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, and a sentence of seven years' prison for consensual sodomy.

New Zealand currently provides $66.17 million a year to the Cook Islands in development assistance - about a quarter of their entire government budget. I doubt New Zealanders are very happy with the thought of their taxes supporting a foreign government to support bigotry and put gay people in jail. Respect for basic human rights should be a fundamental condition of any funding, and if the Cooks refuse to observe them, we should cut it entirely.